Japonismes 2018: ‘Tadao Ando: The Challenge’ exhibition at Centre Pompidou

tadao ando exhibition


In my opinion, French people have always been fascinated by Asian culture and art, much more so than the English. Japonisme and Chinoiserie were extremely popular in Europe during the 18th and 19th centures; and thanks to globalisation, Japonisme is making a comeback. Officially.

To celebrate the 160 years of friendship between Japan and France, the Japonismes 2018 festival was launched to bring Japanese art and culture to Paris from July 2018 to February 2019. One of the major events is a major retrospective of world-renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando at Centre Pompidou.


tadao ando exhibition

36 black and white photographs taken by Ando, 1984


Tadao Ando: The Challenge‘ focuses on four main themes – the simplicity of space, the urban challenge, project genesis and dialogue with the past. The exhibition covers Ando‘s fifty major projects over five decades via 180 drawings, 70 original plans and numerous slideshows. As soon as I walked in, I was captivated by the striking black and white photographs taken by Ando of his own architecture. The use of smooth concrete, natural light and simple geometry is highlighted in these photos, and there is no need for captions or descriptions.


tadao ando exhibition  tadao ando exhibition

Model of the Row House in Sumiyoshi – Azuma House, Osaka, Japan

tadao ando exhibition

tadao ando exhibition


The exhibition reminded me of an incident at Toto Gallery Ma in Tokyo ten years ago when my friend and I went there to see Ando’s exhibition. We had no idea that the architect was giving a talk on the day, and was surprised to see him there. However, we were stuck inside for ages due to the crowd – it was quite chaotic by Japanese standard! I didn’t see the architect this time, but at least I got to see the exhibition without leaps of people around me.


tadao ando exhibition

tadao ando exhibition

tadao ando exhibition  tadao ando exhibition


Besides his famous works like the Church of Light and Azuma House, there are also models and drawings of his unbuilt work, including his rejected plan for Tate Modern, and Nakanoshima Project II, featuring an egg-shaped shell within Osaka City Hall – which I think is quite ground-breaking.

There is also a model of Ando‘s new project in Paris: Bourse de CommercePinault Collection. With an estimated budget of $170 million, Ando was commissioned by François Pinault, the founder of the luxury group Kering and the investment company Artémis, to renovate the 19th-century former stock exchange and transformed it into a contemporary art venue. Even though there is no shortage of art venues in Paris, it is still exciting to see Ando‘s new work in Paris – can’t wait to see it.


tadao ando exhibition

tadao ando exhibition

tadao ando exhibition

tadao ando exhibition  tadao ando exhibition

tadao ando exhibition

tadao ando exhibition

pompidou centre


The doors of Paris

Petit Palais façade door 

paris door  paris door

Top: Petit Palais’ Beaux-art façade designed by Charles Girault


This post is dedicated to all the beautiful, magnificent, elegant, quirky, stylish, and unconventional doors in Paris. If you haven’t noticed the doors in Paris, then start looking when you are in the city next time. Here is a collection that I have taken over the last few years across different parts of the city.


paris door  paris door

img_4781-min  img_9841-min


Decorative iron & handles


paris door  paris


paris  img_1146-min

img_9508-min  img_9823-min


There is a vast array of styles including Beaux Arts, Neo-Classicism, Art Nouveau and Art Deco… Some of them are masterpieces that feature outstanding craftsmanship like the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, but personally, I love the Art Nouveau and Art deco ones.


ecole de garcons ville de paris  paris



Art nouveau


 rue Campagne-Première by André Arfvidson   rue Campagne-Première André Arfvidson

Céramic Hôtel door

paris door  paris door

paris door  img_1033-min

Top: Artists’ atelier at rue Campagne-Première by André Arfvidson; 2nd row: Facade of the Céramic Hôtel, covered with ceramic decoration and sculpture by Camille Alaphilippe


36-38 rue Greuze by Hector Guimard  s8004723-min

p1000313-min  8 rue Jasmin

Follot's house

Top left: 36-38 rue Greuze by Hector Guimard; 2nd right: Former central telephone office at 8 rue Jasmin by Paul Guadet; Bottom: Follot’s house at 5 rue Schoelcher by Paul Follot


Art Deco


img_9675-min  img_9339-min


img_9674-min  img_9378-min

dsc_0068-min  dsc_0038-min

paris  img_1102-min

paris  img_5187-min

paris  img_1106-min

img_0919-min  img_4780-min


img_9600-min  dsc_0114-min


Cool door/gates


paris  img_9414-min


Wooden doors




img_1091-min  paris






The Grande Mosquée de Paris  The Grande Mosquée de Paris 

The Grande Mosquée de Paris


Street art


img_5037-min  paris

dsc_0273-min  dsc_0124-min



The wonders of Musee Guimet

musee guimet


Undoubtedly, Paris is a city with many outstanding world-class museums and art galleries, but sometimes the sheer volume of visitors at Louvre, Musee D’Orsay and Grand Palais is simply overwhelming and off-putting. Hence, I would rather spend my time lingering at some excellent but lesser known or less popular museums. And one of my favourites is Le musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet/ Musee Guimet, which houses one of the largest collections of Asian art outside of Asia.

This museum was established by Emile Guimet in 1889, and it showcases 5000 years of Asian art with a vast array of sculptures, murals, decorative objects, ceramics, paintings, furniture, textiles, graphic prints and manuscripts etc. It is easy to spend a few hours here, and it rarely gets very crowded.

During my visit, I was very pleasantly surprised by French contemporary artist Prune Nourry‘s exhibition “HOLY, Carte Blanche to Prune Nourry”. Throughout the museum, installations of her past ten years’ work could be seen. I thought the most impressive was the giant Buddha statue that has been broken up, and strategically placed on different floor levels like old ruins. On the top floor was the head of the Buddha (where one could walk into it through the ears), a hand on the floor below, and the feet were placed on the ground floor, all of which were covered with red incense sticks. This intentionally fragmented installation reminds me of the blown up Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan. It is poetic and mesmerising.

Her Terracotta Daughters sculptures created in 2013, consisted of an army of 108 girls, the eight original ones of which will be shown in the museum, refers to the first emperor’s terracotta soldiers, and is a tribute to the millions of girls that will not be born because
of pre-birth selection.


 Prune Nourry  musee guimet Prune Nourry

 Prune Nourry

musee guimet Prune Nourrymusee guimet Prune Nourry

 Prune Nourry

prune nourry  prune nourry

“HOLY, Carte Blanche to Prune Nourry” exhibition


Japanese graphic artist Hokusai‘s sold-out exhibition at British Museum revealed that traditional Japanese woodblock printing still fascinates the Western audience in this day and age. Unfortunately, the exhibition was so packed that I found myself constantly being blocked by older women who did not want others to get close to the prints or paintings.

Luckily, the exhibition “Paysages japonais, de Hokusai à Hasui” enabled me to enjoy Hokusai‘s famous prints up close without crowds nor disruption. Aside from Hokusai, there were also prints by other famous ukiyo-e artists like Hiroshige, Utamaro, Kuniyoshi and Hasui. The exhibition also showcased some rare vintage photographs of Japan, which were extremely fascinating.


musee guimet  musee guimet






The “Paysages japonais, de Hokusai à Hasui” exhibition


musee guimet  musee guimet

The “113 Ors d’Asie” exhibition


Even though the British Museum has an excellent collection of ancient Buddhist art and sculptures, I think Musee Guimet’s collection is quite staggering too. I particularly love the ancient Buddhist sculptures from Afghanistan that were evidently influenced by the Greeks. The hair and the draping of the robes were more Western than Eastern, which demonstrated that ancient cultural exchanges did have an strong impact on the development of Buddhist art in Asia.


musee guimet

musee guimet  musee guimet

musee guimet

musee guimet  musee guimet

musee guimet

musee guimet



musee guimet

musee guimet  musee guimet


Not far from the museum is Hôtel Heidelbach, a well-hidden annexe that houses a Buddhist Pantheon gallery, a lovely Japanese garden and a tea house for tea ceremonies. Entry to this gallery and garden is free, and it should not be missed.


musee guimet Japanese garden

The Japanese garden and tea house at Hôtel Heidelbach


The power of flowers: Pierre-Joseph Redoute exhibition

musee de la vie romantique

musee de la vie romantique


There are many world-class art museums in Paris, but I tend to favour the lesser-known ones that are slightly off the beaten track. Located at the foot of Montmartre hill is Musée de la Vie romantique (The Museum of Romantic Life or Museum of the Romantics), a small and pretty hôtel particulier with a greenhouse, a garden, and a paved courtyard. Built in 1830, it was the base of Dutch/French Romantic painter Ary Scheffer, where he received Parisian socialites like Delacroix, Rossini, Sand, Chopin, Gounod, Tourgueniev, Dickens… Now the museum’s permanent collection displays the paintings of Scheffer and his contemporaries, as well as the memorabilia of George Sand including furniture, painting, objets d’art and jewellery.

For fans of botanical art, the current exhibition: ‘The power of flowers: Pierre-Joseph Redouté 1759-1840′ (until 29th October) is a must-see, because it offers a rare opportunity to view works by the Belgian botanist and painter Redouté, who was often called “the Raphael of flowers” and the greatest botanical illustrator of all time.


musee de la vie romantique

Pierre-Joseph Redouté  Pierre-Joseph Redouté

Pierre-Joseph Redouté  Pierre-Joseph Redouté

Botanical drawings by Pierre-Joseph Redouté


Redouté worked with the greatest botanists of his time, responding to their quest for classification and identification of the plants brought back from every continent. Not only was he an appointed painter to the sovereigns, he was also an engraver, a publisher and a teacher. His illustrated publications also inspired many manufacturers to produce wallpapers, textiles, porcelain, embroidery and other applied arts.


the power of flowers

the power of flowers  the power of flowers


With more than 250 paintings, watercolours, art objects and vellum on display, the exhibition showcases works by Redouté and other artists who had been influenced by him. While inside the house (and some at the garden), another exhibition, ‘A fleur d’atelier – Fine crafts tour’ organised by Ateliers d’Art de France displays contemporary crafts created by 26 artists based on the theme of flowers/plants.


christine coste  sarah radulescu

lise rathonie

ferri garces  ferri garces

Top left: Christine Coste’s L’assaut; Top right: Sarah Radulescu’s Floraison; 3rd row: Lise Rathonie’s Les Exuberantes; Bottom left: Ferri Garces’ Hibiscus; Bottom right: Ferri Garces’ Rose des Sables


Forty original art works can be seen throughout the house and at the garden, and a wide range of materials like silver, paper, cotton, porcelain, plaster, wool, and glass, etc. are employed in these works.

Both exhibitions are fascinating, and it demonstrates the ever-alluring appeal of flowers/plants, and how artists and craftsmen have continuously been inspired by nature over the centuries.


francoise tellier loumangne

angele riguidel  stephanie martin

corinne dorlencourt

Top: Francoise Tellier Loumangne’s Achillee; 2nd row left: Angele Riguidel’s Nature Morte; 2nd row right: Stephanie Martin’s Verture; Bottom: Corinne Dorlencourt’s Etamines


The exhibition is on at the Musée de la Vie romantique (16, rue Chaptal, 75009, Paris ) until 29th October.

Maison et objet (autumn 17)

maison et objet

Hall 6 at Maison et objet


The term ‘enochlophobia’ means fear of crowds, a phobia that I suspect I have – mildly. Although I don’t experience blackouts or panic attacks in crowded places, I do feel overwhelmed, as if my energy is being sucked out of me, and I often feel exhausted afterwards.

This can be a problem when I visit business-related trade fairs, hence I rarely spend more than a few hours at a trade fair (or even art fairs). However, once in a while, I have to conquer my fears and plunge into it. It took me some time to decide whether I should spend €60 on a ticket to Paris’ mega design trade fair, Maison et objet, particularly when most trade fairs in the world are free of charge. Perhaps the reason why they could charge so much is because of its reputation and history (it is 22 years old); and it attracts luxury and well-respected brands, independent names, as well as up-and-coming designers from around the world. If you want to know the trends of interior, furniture and products and what is happening in the design world right now, then this fair is most likely to provide some ideas. With over 3000 brands exhibiting at Paris Nord Villepinte (about 45 mins outside of Paris) for 5 days, it would be wise to do some preparations before the visit.


maison et objet

maison et objet  maison et objet

maison et objet

maison et objet


My strategy was to spend a day there focusing on 2-3 halls only (there are 8 in total), because it would impossible to see everything in a day. But soon after I arrived via the entrance of Hall 6 (the largest hall), I was lost, stressed out, and feeling overwhelmed. I thought I was mentally prepared, but the sheer scale of the venue was staggering. The layout of this hall was like a vast maze and it wasn’t easy to navigate at all. Luckily, Hall 7 (Now! Design a Vivre) was more spacious and it gave me some breathing space. Six hours later, I only managed to cover 2.5 halls, but it was sufficient for me already.


vitra eames  marimekko


Flensted Mobiles

Top left: The classic Eames Elephant at Vitra; Top right and 2nd row: new collection by Marimekko; Botton row: Flensted Mobiles


But was it worth all the fuss and sweat? Yes, I suppose. Since most of the trade fairs in London focus mostly on British brands and businesses, M & O provides a more global perspective of the design world outside of the U.K. There are many interesting brands that I have never heard of before, and many of them are based in Asia too.

Here is an overview of some of the brands/products that I encountered during the 6 hours at the fair including many Asian participants:



Gmund papermakers and stationery (Germany)


papier machine

Papier Machine (France) is a booklet gathering a family of 13 paper-made electronic toys ready to be cut, colored, folded, assembled or torn.



Samesame recycled glass products (Germany)



Storytiles from the Netherlands


Animal theme



elephant table and chairs element optimal

peacock at Element Optimal  Zoo collection at Element Optimal

Top and 2nd rows: super cute cuddly toy chairs at AP Collection from Belgium; 3rd row: elephant table and chairs; Bottom left: Peacock; Bottom right: Zoo collection at Element Optimal from Denmark



wonders of weaving

luce couillet

dsc_0063-min  img_4998-min

Top row: Wonders of weaving (Indonesia); 2nd row: Luce Couillet textiles (France); Bottom: origami textiles at the Material lab



In the last few years, Japanese art/digital collective teamlab has created some fascinating immersive installations around the world. After their popular installations at Pace London earlier this year, they have teamed up with tea master Shunichi Matsuo to promote his new brand, En tea, a new tea grown in Hizen.

Visitors were led into a dark room, where they would sit at the table and be given a bowl of green tea. Then virtual flowers would appear when tea is poured in the bowl; the visuals are rendered in real time by a computer program and are not prerecorded. Petals and leaves would scatter and spread as you move your bowl. It was a fun experience, and a nice way to rehydrate and enjoy a bit of downtime away from the hustle and bustle outside.


Espace en tea X Teamlab  Espace en tea X Teamlab

more trees

Top row: flowers blossom in the tea bowl: Bottom row: En tea & More trees space outside of the installation



Misoka – an award-winning toothbrush that requires no toothpaste



The quirkiest lamps ever… Pampshade is made from real bread by bread lover/artist, Yukiko Morita. I have ever seen anything like this before!


washi paper


Osaka design centre – Washi paper and K-ino Inomata


draw a line  suzusan

suzusan  suzuzan

Top left: Draw a line tension rod by Heian Shindo and TENT; Suzusan shibori textiles and lighting




lee hyemi


small good things  kim hyun joo

Top row: Ceramic products at I.Cera; 2nd row: Lee Hyemi; 3rd row: Korean craft & design foundation; Bottom left: Small good things; Bottom right: Kim Hyun Joo studio



A notable presence from Taiwan at the fair, aside from the Taiwan crafts & design stand, there were other independent brands like Haoshi, Toast, EY products, new brand called Melting, and the 2017 Rising Asian Talents: Kamaro’an.


taiwan craft design






1st row: Taiwan crafts & design; 2nd row: Haoshi; 3rd row: Kamaro’an; 4th row: Toast; 5th row: Melting; bottom row: EY products



Meanwhile, Thailand’s Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) also showcased TALENT THAI, which introduced various Thai lifestyle/design brands to an international audience. Thai design studio, Atelier 2+ was also selected one of the 2017 Rising Asian Talents.


zen forum  saprang

atelier 2+ Greenhouse MinI

salt and pepper studio  img_4968-min

1st left: Zen Forum; 1st right: Handmade jewellery by Saprang;  2nd row: Greenhouse Mini by Atelier 2+; Bottom left: woven chair by Salt and Pepper design studio; Bottom right: wooden panels by Deesawat




The stand of Singapore-based architectural practice WOHA was named Designer of the year Asia 2017


Hong Kong


2017 Rising Asian talent: Lim + Lu Studio




Paris Design Week 17: Now! Le Off

now! le off

now! le off


I have to admit that I have not been keeping up with my blog writing this year, and there is a backlog of unfinished posts that are yet to be published; hence my new tactic is to reduce the amount of writing so that I can keep up to date with what is currently happening.

September is a busy month for designers, retailers and wholesalers as there are many design-related events and trade shows in both London and Paris. Although it is not my first visit to mega home and design trade show Maison et Objet, it is my first visit to Paris design week. Now in its 7th year, this design event might not be as prodigious as the London Design festival (which will start next week), yet it is still a good opportunity to see the current trends and offerings in the French capital city.


Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design  Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design

Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design

Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design


For those who don’t want to splash out €60 to visit Maison et Objet, Now! Le off design show (9th-13th Sept) at Les Docks, Cité de la Mode et du Design is a good alternative as it is free and opened to the public. Here, you would find many up and coming young talents from France and beyond, and it offers an opportunity to meet the designers up face to face.




One pleasant surprise for me at the show was to see an inflatable and portable boat ‘Ar Vag‘ designed by French designer Thibaut Penven. The economical folding boat may be set up in five movements in a manner similar to a tent. It is made of panels of fibre glass and a welded PVC material, and it assumes its final shape thanks to a varnished pine bench. The oars are perfectly integrated into the folded boat’s format.


Ar Vag by thibault penven

Ar Vag by Thibaut Penven


Since I love origami, I was immediately drawn to an origami tent Les cocons designed by Origanid. This foldable and waterproof tent is made of TYVEK®, and it is a lovely way for children or adults to hide away from the world if they need to. I would love to hide inside when I am feeling blue sometimes!





I walked past a table full of playful ‘stuff’ which was surrounded by intrigued visitors, so I tried to squeeze near the table to figure out what these items were. It turned out that the interesting items on the table are designed by Flayou, a multidisciplinary design studio based in Tunis. The two former architecture students experimented with different materials to create miniature architectural models based on buildings in Tunis; they also adopted the traditional pottery-making craft to create three board games made from clay. I think their designs are intuitive, fun and delightful.



Playful designs focusing on materials and craftsmanship by Tunis-based Flayou


Du cote de chez vous‘, the creative label of Leroy Merlin, is showcasing 4 winning projects from its Young talents scheme at the show. These projects were created with the theme based on reinventing modularity in homes. I especially like Antoine Taillandier‘s ‘Plug and make’ organiser, which is a simple but highly functional plywood board that can be used as a table or shelf.

Nearby, Ecole Bleue Global Design showcases 13 projects designed by their design students. Key, designed by Yohann Hewak, is a bookshelf that requires no nails or screws; for those of us who constantly struggle to assemble an Ikea bookshelf, this bookshelf would no doubt save the day.


Cloison Personnalisable by Caroline Chapron  Tabtouli by Lucie Lasjuilliarias

plug and make [organizer]

plug and make [organizer]  Liku by Juliette Chalumeau

key by Yohann Hewak

 Criss Cross Air by Annouck Bussiere

Top left: Cloison Personnalisable by Caroline Chapron; Top right: Tabtouli by Lucie Lasjuilliarias; 2nd row & 3rd left: Antoine Taillandier’s plug and make; 3rd right: Liku by Juliette Chalumeau; 4th row: key by Yohann Hewak; Bottom row: Criss Cross Air by Annouck Bussiere



draft   atelier errance

Parade by Caroline Scholl and Frederique Vinel from Handmade Ici

Top: Design Lituanie showcases designs by Lithuanian designers; Left: Ripple table by Draft; Right: Plipli porcelain inspired from paper folding by Atelier Errance; Bottom: Parade by Caroline Scholl and Frederique Vinel from Handmade Ici


LAYERS by uau project

chaire idis  img_4834-min

Top: LAYERS by UAU project; Bottom left: Chaire Idis; Bottom right: An upcycled woven chair made from plastic waster by the Filipino company, junk not




Bottom row: Murmur lighting by Mona Ronteix Studio






2nd row: Maztri

Le Festival du Merveilleux au Musée des Arts Forains

Musée des Arts Forains


Paris is renowned for its world-class museums and galleries, yet it also has many quirky museums that are off the beaten track, and Musée des Arts Forains is one of them. This private museum opened in 1996 and it is located within the Les Pavillons de Bercy, the 19th century wine warehouses built by Gustave Eiffel‘s apprentice in the 12th arrondissement. I have visited the nearby Bercy Village years ago when it first opened, but I had never heard of this museum until recently.


Les Pavillons de Bercy

Musée des Arts Forains  Musée des Arts Forains

Top: Les Pavillons de Bercy


Don’t expect majestic art work by great masters, this quaint museum actually contains vintage funfair objects from 1850-1950 collected by Jean Paul Favand, an actor and antiques dealer. This museum resembles an indoor Belle Epoque amusement park – there are restored merry-go-rounds, carousels, Japanese billiards, fair stalls and all kinds of attractions/ games that would transport you back in time.


Musée des Arts Forains  Musée des Arts Forains

Musée des Arts Forains

Le Festival du Merveilleux

The annual Festival du Merveilleux is a popular family event for Parisians


One reason why this museum has remained off-the-radar is because visitors could only visit by appointment (via guided tours), with the exception of two occasions: the European Heritage Days in September, and the Festival du Merveilleux around the Christmas Holidays for 12 days.

At the annual Festival du Merveilleux, there are daily street artists’ performances and augmented reality shows, as well as games and rides available to the public. And this year, a photography exhibition by renowned French street photographer Robert Doisneau was one of the highlights of the festival. Unpublished photographs of funfairs were captured by the photographer, and through them, we could see the social changes over the years and the (sad) demise of amusement parks.


Musée des Arts Forains

Musée des Arts Forains  Musée des Arts Forains

Musée des Arts Forains

Le Festival du Merveilleux


I can’t remember the last time I visited an amusement park – let alone a retro one – and from what I gathered, most visitors were French families with young kids. Though I am certain that this maze-like atmospheric venue, and its retro games and activities would appeal to both kids and adults. The 14 Euro festival entrance fee also included a free ride/game, and it was fun to wander around and enjoy the festive atmosphere; though queues were quite long at the more popular rides and games…


Musée des Arts Forains

Musée des Arts Forains

Le Festival du Merveilleux


There are four thematic rooms rooms at the venue, and one of the most beautiful one is the circular Magic Mirror, where the photography exhibition was held. I have always been a fan of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau, and I think his playful and beguiling post-war photographs of Parisian fun fairs capture a bygone era that reflect how times have changed in the last few decades. While tech companies are investing heavily on the technology of virtual reality, these photographs remind us that the advanced technology does not necessarily make us happier. I am not anti-technology (I have enjoyed my VR experiences in the past), but I think human beings will always value tactile objects and direct experiences without the aid of digital machines.

And honestly, one could not expect a more apt venue for this exhibition – vintage swan and horse carousels were displayed among photos of joyous carousel riders – the nostalgic ambience made the Magic Mirror even more magical!


Musée des Arts Forains

Musée des Arts Forains

Musée des Arts Forains  Musée des Arts Forains

Musée des Arts Forains

Musée des Arts Forains  Musée des Arts Forains

Musée des Arts Forains

Musée des Arts Forains

Musée des Arts Forains

Robert Doisneau‘s photography exhibition at the Magic Mirror


If you are bored of visiting the touristy art museums in Paris, then I highly recommend a visit to this one-of-a-kind museum. It is beyond nostalgia; not only does it celebrates our cultural history and funfairs, but also the nameless entertainers who devote their lives in perfecting their skills to bring joy to funfair goers.


Le Festival du Merveilleux

Le Festival du Merveilleux

Le Festival du Merveilleux



The Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Fondation Louis Vuitton  Fondation Louis Vuitton


Opened in October 2014, the Fondation Louis Vuitton was designed by star architect Frank Gehry in the Bois de Boulogne adjacent to Jardin d’Acclimatation.

Commissioned by Bernard Arnault, the Chairman of LVMH, the $143 million sails-inspired glass building is a contemporary art museum consisted of 11 galleries, an auditorium, a restaurant, a bookstore and a roof garden.


Fondation Louis Vuitton  Fondation Louis Vuitton

Fondation Louis Vuitton


Like many big-budget buildings by other contemporary star architects – Zaha Zadid, Daniel Libeskind and Renzo Piano to name a few, subtlety is the last thing you would expect from them. Imposing, audacious and conspicuous, the building’s facade is very ‘intagramable’, but it looks completely out of place next to the 19th century children’s amusement park Jardin d’Acclimatation. Beautiful or hideous, it is utterly subjective; though personally, I have quite mixed feelings towards this building.


Fondation Louis Vuitton  Fondation Louis Vuitton

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Inside the horizon, Olafur Eliasson's installation   Inside the horizon, Olafur Eliasson's installation

Top two rows: The miniature models and floor plan of the building; Bottom: Olafur Eliasson’s installation ‘Inside the horizon’


My issue with this building has less to do with its exterior, I was more bothered by its confusing layout and navigation. While there is only one route to visit the connecting galleries in the basement, the galleries upstairs are disjointed in an erratic manner, and so it is easy to miss certain rooms without even realising it!


Fondation Louis Vuitton  Fondation Louis Vuitton

Gilbert & george at Fondation Louis Vuitton

Jean-Michel Basquiat at Fondation Louis Vuitton

Jean-Michel Basquiat at Fondation Louis Vuitton  Fondation Louis Vuitton

Mann im Matsch ("Man in Mud") by Thomas Schutte

‘Popist, and music/sound exhibition’ – Top right: Philippe Parreno’s helium-filled black balloons; 2nd row: Gilbert and George; 3rd and 4th left: Jean-Michel Basquiat; Bottom: Mann im Matsch (Man in Mud) by Thomas Schutte


Fondation Louis Vuitton  Fondation Louis Vuitton

Fondation Louis Vuitton

Fondation Louis Vuitton  Fondation Louis Vuitton

The building’s stainless steel, carbon steel and wood (larch) structure and its roof garden


One of the highlights of the museum is its roof garden, where you can admire the building’s complex steel and wood structure and the skyscrapers of La Défense (looking very much like Canary Wharf in London) on a clear day.


Jardin d’Acclimatation

Jardin d’Acclimatation

Jardin d’Acclimatation  Jardin d’Acclimatation

Jardin d’Acclimatation – 2nd & 3rd row left: outdoor jazz/music concerts on Sundays


After spending time admiring contemporary art work indoor, I was eager to get out and enjoy some sun and nature. Even though Jardin d’Acclimatation is a children’s ‘theme’ park, it is spacious and relaxing, and has plenty to offer adults like outdoor music concerts in the weekends.

To my surprise, there is even a Korean garden and an Edo period (1862) Japanese farmhouse within the park.


Jardin d’Acclimatation

Jardin d’Acclimatation  Jardin d’Acclimatation

Jardin d’Acclimatation

Jardin d’Acclimatation  Jardin d’Acclimatation

Korean garden and a traditional Japanese farmhouse


Yet the cutest attraction at the park is the Little train, a locomotive with electric traction which travels on the historical railway (1878) that links the park to Porte Maillot metro station. It is great to see the railway still being in operation after 138 years!

If you are not prepared to pay €14 to visit The Fondation Louis Vuitton, you can spend €3 and enjoy the park’s attractions while admiring Gehry‘s architecture as the backdrop!


gare du petit train  gare du petit train

gare du petit train

Le Petit train


Autumn in Paris

La Seine  La Seine

La Seine


I had originally planned to visit Maison et objet, the mega design trade show in Paris at the beginning of September. Yet an unexpected event happened at home and I decided to postpone by trip by about a month.

I wasn’t quite mentally prepared for the trip, but the beauty of Paris completely captivated me and made me forget about my anguish. It was when I was walking along the river Seine that I realised I had forgotten how breathtakingly beautiful Paris is. As much as I enjoy walking along the Thames in London, it just doesn’t feel the same… Paris’ scenery and ambience stimulate people’s imagination and it evokes people to sit down and start drawing or write poems spontaneously; it is no wonder that the city has nurtured so many famous artists and writers for more than a century.


La Seine  La Seine

La Seine  La Seine

La Seine

La Seine  La Seine

The sights and activities along the river Seine


Although everyone thinks that Paris is a city for lovers, I felt extremely content walking along the river alone. I don’t view solitude as a negative state, in fact, there are times when solitude is necessary in order for us to absorb the sublime surroundings.


La Seine  La Seine

La Seine  La Seine

La Seine

Paris’ sunset


The glorious and sunny days made a huge impact on the trip. It made me feel joyful and relaxed walking around the city, and I almost didn’t want the trip to end!


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paris  paris  paris


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In the Palais Royal garden, there was a temporary exhibition of large stone sculptures and installations; it was wonderful to stroll and admire these art works while the sun was out.


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palais royal garden  palais royal garden  palais royal garden

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palais royal garden  palais royal garden

palais royal garden

palais royal garden  palais royal garden

The Palais Royal Gardens and temporary stone sculptures and installations


The short trip simply reminds me that there is no place like Paris. And whether you are here alone or with a lover/partner or family, it would be difficult not be allured by the magic of this city.




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Contemporary art & design exhibitions in Paris

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 Baitogogo by Henrique Oliveira at Palais de Tokyo


My last post on Paris is about the contemporary art and design exhibitions I visited this summer…

I have quite conflicted feelings towards contemporary art, I find some work stimulating and groundbreaking, yet others totally pointless… it is almost hard to find a middle ground. However, I always find Paris’ contemporary art exhibitions inspiring and thought-provoking, and this is probably down to the curators who seem more daring and uncompromising. In London, I noticed that galleries are more willing to take risks than the bigger and more established museums. I am bored of those big blockbuster exhibitions that tend to play safe and stay within the comfort zone. Yes, they are successful and draw huge crowds but they are hardly pushing any boundaries.


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Palais de Tokyo


I have previously written about the Palais de Tokyo (13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116) here, which reopened in 2012 as the largest contemporary art centre in Europe. I have visited this venue several times before it reopened, and I honestly think that it has transformed itself from an interesting contemporary art space to one of the most cutting edge art venues in Europe ( if not the world).

Not everyone is going to like this place, and many would even view some of the conceptual art pieces as ‘garbage’ but I love the fact that the curators are risk-takers who are constantly challenging the visitors’ perception. If you are looking for aesthetically-pleasing and ‘comforting’ art pieces, then stick to Musée d’Orsay and Musée du Louvre, this venue is not for the traditionalists.

I think the biggest challenge for the curators is to install different mini exhibitions within the vast and raw space. Yet the curators’ decision to dedicate a specific space for each artist’s installations works brilliantly. Unlike other museums where installations or art objects are cramped next to each other in a small room, here, all the art pieces have been carefully installed with much thought and vision.


palais de tokyoHiroshi SugimotoI have previously written about the Palais de Tokyo (13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116), which reopened in 2012 as the largest contemporary art centre in Europe. I have visited this venue several times before it reopened, and I honestly think that it has transformed itself from an interesting contemporary art space to one of the most cutting edge art venues in Europe ( if not the world).  Not everyone is going to like this place, and many would even view some of the conceptual art pieces as 'garbage' but I love the fact that the curators are risk-takers who are constantly challenging the visitors' perception. If you are looking for aesthetically-pleasing and 'comforting' art pieces, then stick to Musée d'Orsay and Musée du Louvre, this venue is not for the traditionalists.  I think the biggest challenge for the curators is to install different mini exhibitions within the vast and raw space. Yet the curators' decision to dedicate a specific space for each artist's installations works brilliantly. Unlike other museums where installations or art objects are cramped next to each other in a small room, here, all the art pieces have been carefully installed with much thought and vision. Hiroshi Sugimoto palais de tokyoHiroshi Sugimoto palais de tokyo  Hiroshi Sugimotopalais de tokyo

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s “Aujourd’hui, le monde est mort” include an installation inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s Étant donnés 


One of the exhibits that I particularly enjoyed was renowned Japanese photographer/ artist Hiroshi Sugimoto‘s “Aujourd’hui, le monde est mort (Lost Human Genetic Archive)”. Sugimoto‘s work explores the nature of time and perception, and the origins of consciousness.

This exhibition is inspired by Albert Camus’s novel L’Étranger (The Stranger) and Marcel Duchamp’s Readymade and Étant donnés, the artist has created a fictitious end of the world installations with thirty possible scenarios. Bleak, bizarre and provocative, it also highlights many issues that the planet and what the human beings have to deal with in the future.

Coincidentally, when I was in one of the rooms where a falling meteor had supposedly smashed through the skylight and concrete floor leaving a hole in the ground. The sky suddenly turned grey (it was sunny earlier) and started to rain heavily. And as I looked up, I realised that the hole up there was real and the staff had to put buckets to catch the falling rain. I never seen an incident like this in any art museum/ gallery before, it was almost comical and surreal at the same time.


“Nouvelles histoires de fantômes”

Nouvelles histoires de fantômes


I was also quite blown away by “Nouvelles histoires de fantômes (New Ghost Stories)”, a cinematic and imagery installation conceived by French art historian and philosopher Georges Didi-Huberman and photographer Arno Gisinger after the legendary Atlas Mnemosyne by early 20th century art historian Aby Warburg. Visitors would walk through the installation with videos and images surrounding and underneath them, it is a truly immersive experience by all means.


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Le Mur: les œuvres de la collection d’Antoine de Galbert at La Maison Rouge


La Maison Rouge (10 Blvd. de la Bastille 75012) is an independent contemporary art venue where I would pay a compulsory visit whenever I am in the city. To celebrate their 10th anniversary, the current exhibition “Le Mur: les œuvres de la collection d’Antoine de Galbert” (until 21st Sept) is the eleventh in a series of exhibitions showcasing the founder Antoine de Galbert‘s private collections.

De Galbert‘s eclectic collection ( including paintings, drawings, photos, 917 works from 458 artists in total) is on display in a random way and covers almost all the walls in the galleries. There are no labels nor descriptions next to the works, information can only be found on the computer screens in the middle of the room.

I have been to many excellent exhibitions here before, and one of the best was “My Winnipeg” exhibition in 2011 featuring many cool and creative art work from a little-known yet thriving arts scene in Canada.

Yet I was slightly disappointed with the current exhibition, partly because I felt overwhelmed by the amount of work on display. The seemingly lack of curation ( and lack of information) is a brave move but it is also hard for the brain to focus and digest the images and objects all at once. It is a shame because there are many interesting pieces here including many big names as well as many lesser known artists from around the world.


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Vivid Memories at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain


Vivid Memories ( until 21st Sept) at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain is a retrospective exhibition celebrating its 30th year anniversary. The exhibition focuses on the works that the Fondation Cartier has collected since 1984 and it includes paintings, designs, photography, films, folk art, videos and sculptures etc.


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Sculpture at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain


I was especially excited to see Congolese sculptor Bodys Isek Kingelez’s futuristic cityscape, Japanese film director Takeshi Kitano’s weird and wonderful objects and Italian designer/architect Alessandro Mendini‘s colourful objects etc. The exhibition demonstrates the foundation’s continuous effort and uncompromising approach in promoting multidisciplinary forms of art and designs for the last 30 years.


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Re-enchanting the world at Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine


Not only does Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine offer a great view of the Eiffel Tower (without the tourists), it also organises brilliant architecture exhibitions. Their current Re-enchanting the world ( until 6th October) is an impressive and compelling exhibition showcasing 40 winners (2007-2014) of the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture.

The exhibition is built around three narratives: – Architecture as a process of transforming the real – Architecture re-enchanted through knowledge – Architecture as a vision of the human establishment on earth. It questions the mission of the architect in an era of great transitions: demographic, urban, environmental, energy, industrial and so on.


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I love what the curation and design teams have done here, instead of displaying work on panels or walls, the exhibits are printed onto small and big cubes where visitors can turn, hold and interact with them. There are also glass cases showcasing sketches and collected objects that have inspired the architects. The exhibition highlights an important issue that concerns our future and those who are living the developing countries with very limited resources. It depresses me when I see commercial property developers in wealthy cities constantly hiring celebrity architects who are more concerned about style and ego than tackling the fundamental issues of architecture. Architecture is for everyone and not for just the privileged. Therefore it is encouraging to see so many smaller architectural firms around the world creating beautiful, functional and sustainable architecture that would make positive impact in people’s lives.


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Le Cent Quatre


Moving away from the centre and touristy areas,Le Cent Quatre (104 rue d’Aubervilliers, 75019) is a contemporary art space that has been creating a lot of buzz in Paris’s contemporary art scene since its opening in 2008. Housed in a massive 19th century former state funeral parlour in the dodgy north-east part of Paris, the site covers over 15,848m² with 200 artists in residence including sculptors, designers, painters, comic strip writers, musicians, dancers and even gardeners. The large facility regularly hosts concerts, performances, contemporary art exhibition, and there is a restaurant, a café, a bookstore, an eco fashion boutique, a secondhand shop, and a play area for children.

If you are want to see French contemporary artists at work, then this is the place to visit. You will also uncover a part of Paris that is completely different from the pristine and chic image that we are normally used to.